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Government and Politics
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Capitol Renovation Would Include Seismic Upgrades

Oregon's state capitol building could soon undergo a massive renovation. It's a project so big, lawmakers would have to use a temporary capitol for more than three years.

Senior project manager Tary Carlson said the idea is to help the Depression-era capitol building withstand a major earthquake.

"When this was built 76 years ago, they did not design for lateral forces of a seismic event such as a Cascadia Subduction Zone,” he said.

So what would be left if the Big One hits?

"A pile of rubble,” Carlson said.

To avoid that, the nearly $300 million project would install dozens of base isolators underneath the building. They're meant to cushion the marble edifice during a major quake. The renovation would also make the building more accessible.

Lawmakers will vote on whether to approve the plans during their session next year. If approved, construction would begin in the spring of 2016 and last about three years. While the building is closed, lawmakers would meet in a different state-owned building about four blocks from the current capitol.

The public can view and comment on renovation plans during an open house in Hearing Room A of the capitol building on Wednesday, December 10.